Thursday, March 29, 2012

Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2

A Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force in Africa.  11th MEU floating in the CENTCOM area of operations.  24th MEU soon to join them...Special Forces has at least a battalions worth of ODA's operating on the continent.  Force Recon has come home to the MEU and SPMAGTF....Rangers are all over the place...including Africa.  The USAF has C-130's flying all over the place and they also have a squadron of F-15E's in the area.  And they've suddenly frozen the sat image out of Camp Lemonnier.

Pure speculation on my part but something is happening.  What?  I just don't know but something juicy is brewing....Oh and I haven't even talked about the Brits, French, Italians and others.  And the EU just approved strikes on pirate land bases.

Photo by Cpl. Jad Sleiman A force reconnaissance Marine goes over threat detection methods with a group of Ugandan soldiers, Feb. 28. Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12 sent a small team of Marines into Uganda, Feb. 3, to train Ugandan forces for the fight against al-Shabaab in Somalia and the hunt for Joseph Kony and the Lord’s resistance army.
 Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2 stand on line with AK-47 assault rifles preparing to conduct a live fire exercise during foreign weapons familiarization training near Crawfordsville, Ark., Jan. 23, 2012. The Marines and sailors of SPMAGTF 12.2 are deploying to Africa to advise host nation militaries on various military tactics.  Photo by Lance Cpl. Adwin Esters  
Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2 Marines receive a class from Instructor Phil Aldredge on the destructive effects of the 7.62x39mm round on various mediums during foreign weapons familiarization training near Crawfordsville, Ark., Jan. 23, 2012. The Marines and sailors of SPMAGTF 12.2 are deploying to Africa to advise host nation militaries on various military tactics.  Photo by Lance Cpl. Adwin Esters
Landing support specialist Sgt. Geoffrey Dubie, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12.2 watches over Cpl. Stefan Tunstall, a field radio operator, as he takes aim on his target during foreign weapons familiarization training near Crawfordsville, Ark., Jan. 23, 2012. The Marines and sailors of SPMAGTF 12.2 are deploying to Africa to advise host nation militaries on various military tactics.  Photo by Lance Cpl. Adwin Esters

Battalion Landing Team 3/1 Live Fire.

Thank God!  I am so tired of seeing the Raid Force!  Photos by Cpl Ryan Carpenter.

Lance Cpl. Shane Lee fires a rifle during a live-fire exercise aboard the amphibious transport dock New Orleans here March 28. The 19-year-old mortarman hails from Torrance, Calif., and serves with Company L, one of three rifle companies with Battalion Landing Team 3/1, the ground combat element for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The unit is deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force. The group is providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
Marines with Company L fire at training targets aboard USS New Orleans, March 28. The company is one of three rifle companies in Battalion Landing Team 3/1, the ground combat element for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The unit is deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force. The group is providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
Marines with Company L fire at training targets aboard USS New Orleans here March 28. The company is one of three rifle companies in Battalion Landing Team 3/1, the ground combat element for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The unit is deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force. The group is providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

The F-35 will be one Helluva fighter!

Testimony about the F-35 given to the Australian Parliament...via F-16.net (thanks Spudman)
Quotable Quotes
(Page numbers given are in reference to the PDF page, not the printed page number of the document)

Pg.6 Tom Burbage wrote:
The F35 configuration that Australia will take delivery of in 2014 is identical to the configuration of the US Air Force.
Can we finally put this "export model" BS to bed?

Pg.6 Tom Burbage wrote:
More than 80 per cent of all of our airborne software is flying today and all of our sensors are demonstrating the required performance. The implementation of the multilevel security design did in fact require approximately three more months than originally planned; however, recovery plans have been developed and implemented. We expect to recover two of those three months by mid-year and all three by the end of the year.


Pg.7 Tom Burbage wrote:
By September of this year, we expect to have block 2B, as we refer to its software, which is the software that marines will take as their initial operational capability to be flying in our test aircraft.


Pg.9 Mr Liberson wrote:
Our current assessment that we speak of is: greater than six to one relative loss exchange ratio against in four versus eight engagement scenarios—four blue at 35s versus eight advanced red threats in the 2015 to 2020 time frame.


Pg.10 Mr Liberson wrote:
And it is very important to note that our constructed simulations that Mr Burbage talks about without the pilot in the loop are the lowest number that we talk about—the greater than six to one. When we include the pilot in the loop activities, they even do better when we include all of that in our partner—


Pg.10 wrote:
ACTING CHAIR: Post 2015 and 2020 you have stealth on stealth. How are you going to kill either PAC FA or J20?

Air Cdre Bentley: We cannot answer that question, just as we cannot answer the threat question, because we get into classified areas very, very quickly.
ACTING CHAIR: It seems to be a very convenient excuse.

Air Cdre Bentley: No, it is not an excuse. All of the defence officials who are appropriately cleared in all of the nations that are participating in this country know exactly what we have briefed, what those briefings entail and what the analysis entails, and they have chosen F35. If you are purporting to be a huge—

ACTING CHAIR: So what you are saying is, 'Believe us; we've got all the classified data in a brown paper bag'—

Air Cdre Bentley: Believe the nine best air forces in the world as far as their operators and their analysts are concerned and I think that you will come to realise that it is not us telling the story; it is them telling the story to their governments and their governments making a decision to go forward with this aeroplane.


Pg.11 Tom Burbage wrote:
If you look at the STOVL jet and you look at our weight charts, which you are more than welcome to see, we have now gone two years without any weight increase on the STOVL jet, and that is while accommodating engineering changes to the doors, which we have replaced with heavier doors, and other changes that were made to the airplane. We manage the weight very tightly on that airplane—for good reasons, because it needs to be. The other two airplanes are not as sensitive to weight. We are actually probably several thousand pounds away from the first compromise of the performance requirements of those two airplanes.
So much for no growth margin

Quote:
Senator FAWCETT: I have one last question, if I can. Speaking of the key performance indicators, obviously for the overall program they are cost, schedule and performance. In cost and schedule we have seen a number of changes and rebaselining to allow for things that have happened. In terms of the KPIs against your original ops requirement document—you do not have to disclose which ones have not been met—but at this point in time have all of the original essential requirements from the ORD been met?

Mr Burbage: We have 16 key performance parameters on this airplane. Half are logistics and sustainment-related, half are aeroperformance-related and one or two are in classified areas. We have an oversight body called the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, the JROC, that looks at those requirements every year and makes decisions on them—'Are we going to meet them, are we not going to meet them? If we are not going to meet them, what is the impact of that?' We have one this year which was the range of the Air Force airplane which had a specific set of ground rules associated with how that range is calculated which is not similar to either of the other two airplanes. The airplane flies a large part of its mission at a non-optimised altitude in the original calculation. The JROC agreed to change the ground rules to fly that airplane as the other two were flown and, when that happened, the airplane had excess margin to the range requirement. For any performance-related requirements, we artificially penalise the engine by five per cent fuel flow and two per cent thrust. Those margins are given back as we mature the design and get more and more solid on exactly what it is going to do. They are there for conservative estimation up front. We have not taken back any of those margins yet so, when those margins are taken back, the airplane will continue to be well in excess of its basic requirement. The airplane is meeting all of the other requirements today.

Senator FAWCETT: So have those requirements like schedule and cost been rebaselined, or are they are still the original ORD?

Mr Burbage: Schedule and cost are not KPPs. I thought you were talking about performance.

Senator FAWCETT: No, I recognise that. You have rebaselined schedule and cost as you have gone along. What I am asking is have the KPIs been rebaselined and does the statement you just made apply to today's KPIs or does it also apply to the original ones?

Mr Burbage: To the original set. Today, all the KPPs are green because that ground rule was changed to be common across all three airplanes on the range. But we have not taken back the margins that are being withheld to make sure those performance predictions are conservative. We are not going to have degraded engines. We basically measure our performance characteristics with a highly-degraded engine capability. Our actual flight test information coming back from the engine is better than nominal. These calculations are not done using actual airplane test data. They are done using an artificial penalty that gets paid back as the design matures.


Pg. 15 Dr JENSEN wrote:
What is interesting with this is that the USAF test facility for measuring radar cross-sections and so on is S-band and higher frequencies. So you do not have a test facility for L-band, VHF and so on.
A quick check on the net shows that LM's Helendale RCS test facility has two systems that can test down in the VHF range (Mark Ve and BuleMax).
Stunning isn't it.

YOU DON'T GET THIS NEWS FROM THE AVIATION MEDIA.

Can we say compromised?

Can we say agenda filled?

Can we say that they're showing lemming like behavior?

I don't know how this entire industry became so sheepish in its behavior but the theme that the F-35 is an ineffective fighter has been allowed to fester and bloom---YET ITS ALL BULLSHIT!

We should see news organizations shut down because of the piss poor work that they've done on this subject.

We should see news organizations fire staff because of the stupidity they've exhibited.  We should see certain arrogant ass bloggers shut down their blogs or else stick to subjects they know about instead of following the crowd.

Oh and if you're one of the individuals that feel "pinged" ... I dedicate the following vid to you dumbasses....(thanks Joe)....
 

Pumping out....

Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare to board the USS Gunston Hall March 28, 2012. The 24th MEU, partnered with the Navy's Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, is deploying to the European and Central Command theaters of operation to serve as a theater reserve and crisis response force capable of a variety of missions from full-scale combat operations to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Photo ByLine: Sgt. Richard Blumenstein

V-2 found in the UK

After all these years, the UK is still dealing with V-2 rockets.  Amazing.  via the Royal Navy.
Royal Navy bomb disposal experts are making safe a World War 2 German missile unearthed in the mud off Harwich.
A six-strong team from Portsmouth was called out to Essex to deal with the V2 missile – fired at Britain from the continent in 1944 or 1945 as part of Hitler’s revenge for the bombing of Germany.

The wartime weapon – fired from the European mainland in 1944 or early 1945 – is submerged nose-down in coastal mud flats on the River Stour between Felixstowe and Harwich.
Local fishermen are understood to have known about the missile for decades and even used to moor their boats to it.
A six-man team from Southern Diving Unit 2, based at Horsea Island, Portsmouth was called out yesterday afternoon. A 40-metre exclusion zone has been set up.
Lt Dan Herridge, Officer-in-Command of SDU 2 said: “This is not going to be a job that’s done overnight. People don’t think they’ve ever found a V-2 intact like this before but due to the nature of the beast we don’t know whether this one is definitely intact.
“Our guys have never seen anything like this before and probably never will again. It’s a very unusual beast indeed.”
At first the RN team was sceptical because the missiles plunged to earth at more than twice the speed of sound having reached heights of up to 128 miles above the earth’s surface – so normally there was nothing left of them.
But on closer inspection it was identified as a V2. It is submerged nose down and is projecting about two feet out of the mud, around 300ft from the Harwich shoreline. It is not known whether the explosive is still present.

The bomb team led by Lt Herridge is expected to remain at the scene for some time and may need to bring in a barge and dredging gear to get the missile out of the mud.
The V2 rocket was developed by pioneering scientist Werner von Braun – who went on to be a key figure behind the American effort to put a man on the moon.
Built by concentration camp prisoners, more than 3,000 V-2s were launched from the continent at London, South-east England and the Belgian port of Antwerp – with the aim of demoralising the civilian populace.
The missile attacks resulted in the death of an estimated 7,250 people, mostly civilians. Of these, more than 2,750 were killed in London – and another 6,523 injured.
By contrast, however, perhaps as many 20,000 prisoners forced to build the weapons died as a result of the inhuman conditions in which the Nazis made them live and work at the Dora-Mittelbau camp in Germany’s Harz mountains.
This has got to be some kind of evil omen.

Weapons from WW2 are still being found, still having to be dealt with and its been decades after the conflict ended and we're talking about technologically advanced societies where this is happening.

Unexploded ordinance.  The new menace.

Exercise Balikatan 2012



Ok.

I understand WHY they're doing it but it still annoys.  The USMC is not a meals on wheels organization.  We are NOT the Salvation Army with guns/jets and armored vehicles.

We are a war fighting organization.

Time to emphasize that fact.

Aviation Week must be pissed.

Thanks for the link SFERRIN.

via Spudman over at F-16.net  read the whole thing but check out these tidbits...
Here are the transcripts of the proceedings and a few nuggets of gold.

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Bus ... arings.htm

The transcripts for the LM presentation have not been put up yet, but here is some info from the Defense Department's reply to the APA/RepSIM info:

1. A lot of classified info could not be discussed.

2. 11k pages of data is shared with Partner nations PER MONTH about the JSF.

3. The "fuel leak" from the first Eglin AFG flight was rainwater that has seeped into the panels.

4. The F-35 has been tested up to 9.88G

5. Up to 650 parameters use to ID a potential threat. For comparison's sake, the F-22 has a third of that. Talk about Situational Awareness.


 A few more things between the lines in that transcript:

- AIM-120 PK is significantly higher than the 50% when fired by the F-35 during simulations
- F-35 consistently wipes the floor with Su-35's in high detail simulation even with expert pilots on the red team
- The 2 missile (1xIR , 1xRadar) combo touted by APA so often does not work as well as APA "guesses" it does due to F-35's signature reduction measures (IR and Radar)
- Confirmation that even though you know F-35's are in the area (low band radar), you can't engage them which is the whole issue when fighting stealth aircraft
- F-35's MADL automatically routes the datalink between aircraft so as to not fire the beam directly at the enemy when connecting to the aircraft up front

You know they're banging their heads against walls over at Aviation Week...begging mommy to make the mean ole' airplane stop.  I have never in my life seen such a concerted effort to kill a US military project in my life.  We might be seeing the first signs of industrial espionage by a domestic publication, via Information Warfare to favor foreign competitors over our own domestic production base.


Israel keeping tabs on the CH-53K


Two of the best air arms in the world are keeping a close watch on the CH-53K...the first of course is the USMC.

The second is the Israeli AF.  via Israeli Defense.

Israel is closely following the development of the Sikorsky CH-53K heavy helicopter, which will replace the Yasur CH-53 helicopter used by the Israeli Air Force (IAF).
While the IAF continues to upgrade the Yasur helicopters, which are planned to fly at least until 2025, there are those in the air force that are thinking of the future. For the moment, it seems that the helicopter’s only substitute is the new Sikorsky model.
This week the US Navy, the first client of the heavy helicopter, examined a proposal by Sikorsky to construct four pilot models for testing purposes. According to the original plan, the new helicopter is intended to enter operational use in 2019. The US Marine Corps has already committed to procuring 200 CH-53K helicopters.
The tri-engine helicopter will be extremely advanced. Its flight system will be a fly-by-wire (FBW) model, and it will be equipped with the most advanced systems. The helicopter is designed to carry payloads at a total weight of more than 12 tons when taking-off from areas with a height of 1800 metes.
As previously stated, the IAF is following the program and is hoping that its test pilots will already be able to perform test flights in the US in 2015.
I've always been amazed at the success of the CH-47.  Don't get me wrong, its a fine airplane and has unique capabilities but pound for pound I always considered the CH-53 better.

The Israeli's seem to agree with my assessment.  Which leaves me with only one question.  Will the USAF decide to purchase a few for SOCOM and its rescue force?  It would make perfect sense and would fill a gaping hole in their capabilities.

Time will tell.

F-35 Airstart Testing


Pic of the day.

A U.S. Navy SEAL with Naval Special Warfare Group 1 fast ropes from an Army MH-47 Chinook helicopter onto the aft deck of the fast combat support ship ROKS Hwacheon (AOE 59) March 20, 2012, in Jinhae Harbor, South Korea, during Foal Eagle 2012. Foal Eagle is a combined U.S.-South Korea field training exercise held annually in South Korea to ensure the operational readiness of air, space and cyberspace operations in the Korean theater of operations. (DoD photo by Sgt. Aaron Rognstad, U.S. Army/Released)

F-35A Flight with External Stores

11th MEU

Photos by Sgt. Elyssa Quesada


 Following photos by Cpl Chad Pulliam


Internally Transportable Vehicle vs. Arctic Cat


Arctic Cat Stats

DIMENSIONS
Overall Length (in./cm) 129/327.7
Overall Width (in./cm) 60/152.4
Overall Height (in./cm) 79/200.6
Wheelbase (in./cm) 85/215.9
Ground Clearance (in./cm) 10/25.4
Dry Weight (lbs./kg) 1363/619.55

TOWING/HAULING
Rear Box Storage Capacity
(lbs./kg)
1000/454.5
Towing Capacity (lbs./kg) 1500/680.4
Underhood/Side Storage
Capacity (lbs./kg)
25/11.34 — NA

ENGINE
Displacement (cc) 695
Engine Type SOHC, 4-stroke, 4-valve w/EFI
Bore & Stroke (mm) 102x85
Cooling System Liquid with fan
Fuel Capacity (gal./liters) 8.2/31
Alternator Capacity (amps) 25
Speedometer Analog
Odometer Digital

ITV Stats

Weight curb 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) MGW: 3,800 kg (8,400 lb)
Length 4.080 m (160.6 in)
Width 1.512 m (59.5 in)
Height 1.940 m (76.4 in) reducible to 1.40 m (55 in)
Crew 1

Engine diesel
Payload capacity 900 kg (2,000 lb) cross country
Suspension 4x4
Fuel capacity 75 litres (20 US gal) fuel: diesel/JP MPG: 17
Speed max 105 km/h (65 mph)
Steering
system
four wheel

Simple question.

With much cheaper vehicles available that provided the same level of protection (none)...that are capable of towing the exact same mortar system around...that cost MUCH MUCH MUCH less (yes I'm repeating myself...the ITV cost over 100,000 200,000  dollars a piece, the off the shelf ATV around 16 grand...militarize it and you might be up to 40 K)...

How did we end up with the ITV?

Why isn't someone in jail?

And are we still buying these?

SIDENOTE:

Hey Marines, if you happen to be in the UK or training with Royal Marines do yourselves and the USMC a favor and refer to this vehicle as the ITV and NOT the Growler.  Informational video follows.

 

Too Damn Little. Too Fucking Late.

via Fox News.
 U.S. troops in Afghanistan now have far-reaching new protections against rogue killers among their Afghan allies, including assigned "guardian angels," fellow troops who will watch over them as they sleep.
Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, ordered the added protections in recent weeks to guard against insider threats, according to a senior military official. They come in the wake of 16 attacks on U.S. and coalition forces by Afghans that now represent nearly one-fifth of all combat deaths this year.
Some of the changes have been subtle, others less so.
In several Afghan ministries, Americans are now allowed to carry weapons. And they have been instructed to rearrange their office desks there to face the door, so they can see who is coming in, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the orders.
Two U.S. military officers working in the Afghan Interior Ministry, one of the most heavily guarded ministry buildings in Kabul, were gunned down at their desks on Feb. 25. While Allen did not detail the new measures in a briefing earlier this week, he acknowledged that changes had been made.
"We have taken steps necessary on our side to protect ourselves with respect to, in fact, sleeping arrangements, internal defenses associated with those small bases in which we operate," Allen said, adding that now someone is "always overwatching our forces."
Wow.

Leadership just doesn't get it.

Troops made this adjustment already.  Interior perimeters are standard and have been for awhile. 

The risk is not when you're sleeping but when you're having to work side by side...when you're on patrol...teaching and leading ....AFGHANS.

It must be great to order your men to do what they're already doing.


Panetta likes big deck amphibs...

via the Patch.com
“The department will continue to prioritize big deck amphibious assault ships such as the Peleliu because of the flexibility they provide commanders to move Marines and supplies ashore,” Little said.
The Peleliu has provided critical support to U.S. Central Command and to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, he said.
“In November 2001, the Peleliu conducted the deepest insertion of ground forces in Marine Corps history to launch the first Marines into Afghanistan,” Little said. “On its most recent deployment, in August 2010, the Peleliu provided relief to victims of flooding in Pakistan.”
Well ain't that something.

The guy knows a bit about the utility of Marines and the necessity of amphibs.

But....words are cheap.  Actions speak much louder.  Time to see if his actions match his word.  Military and Civilian leadership in the DoD has been beyond piss poor.  I'm at the point where if you have a star on your uniform you're not to be trusted.  


Blast from the past...Kitty Hawk as a Special Ops carrier.

Thanks for the article Joe.

The US military has conducted some real life "experiments" with carriers. The 10th Mountain Division conducted a heliborne assault during Operation Uphold Democracy and deployed 54 helicopters along with 2000 troops.

An acceptable performance under adhoc conditions...a situation that really wasn't called for but the Army (US inter service politics) had to get its boys into action.  Interestingly enough, they haven't sought to do it again.  Being an outsider looking in I would bet body parts that it had to do a bit with troop berthing, a bit with helo maintenance and a realization that Army helicopters are not marinized and are not suited to operating at sea.  I bet the bird bath got a workout on that cruise.

Regardless, SOCOM is still trying to get a big deck ship and have laid there eyes on a retiring amphib to make there dreams come true of being a full fledged service unto itself.

There first attempt is the subject of the article that Joe sent.  via the LA Times.
Specially trained forces and elite light infantry units are expected to be instrumental in the effort to locate and strike Saudi-born extremist Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terror network. Some units have already been reported deployed to the region, and others are believed to be on their way.
The dispatch of the half-empty Kitty Hawk "is a little unusual, but this war is a little unusual too," said a defense official who asked to remain unidentified.
Another official noted, however, that aircraft carriers were used for a similar purpose in the 1994 U.S. military intervention in Haiti. In that operation, one carrier transported members of the Army's 10th Mountain Division, and a second carried special operations personnel.
The Kitty Hawk is the fourth carrier heading to, or already in, the region, marking the largest concentration of carrier force since the Persian Gulf War 10 years ago.
Based in Yokosuka, Japan, the Kitty Hawk usually carries about half support aircraft and half attack planes. The attack planes are F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets; the support aircraft include surveillance planes.
Officials said they left a mix of attack and support planes on the carrier.
Military officials stressed that even without the Kitty Hawk, they had more than enough planes for any strike mission the United States was likely to order soon.
Given the limited number of targets in Afghanistan, and the presence of more than 200 U.S. planes in the region, "it's hard to imagine what we'd need more planes for," said a defense official. "What's the target?"
The Kitty Hawk, which is part of the U.S. 7th Fleet, had recently returned from nine days of exercises in the deep waters off Japan. Some observers speculated that the trip may have been intended to allow sailors and fighter pilots time to refresh their skills before they joined the anti-terrorist operation.
Of the 12 U.S. aircraft carriers, it is the only one permanently deployed outside U.S. territory, and its departure leaves East Asia without an American carrier.
A Navy spokesman said that the Kitty Hawk's official mission was to "support efforts to identify, locate and hold accountable terrorists and those who support and harbor them."
Read the whole thing for yourself, but I continue to think that ideas like this are nothing but bad ideas.  Even lacking their attack aircraft, carriers are just not designed to carry troops.

They'll keep trying and they'll keep failing.

What SOCOM really wants (and they just might get it) is a big deck LHA/LHD.  It goes against what they're suppose to be...what they're suppose to do.

But they insist on pushing the idea and too many fanboys will back it instead of calling them on it.